Rugby Tour extraordinaire!!!
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE GUIDING
Blue Badge superstar guide and distinguished London arts critic Rick Jones…
Yes, that Rick Jones. The Rick Jones who, for good measure, once played for the Harlequins (literally once). He’s our fly-half leading a rugby-themed tour of London’s Rugby Estate…
Why now? Because it’s timed to perfection, that’s why. A once in a 200-year-opportunity.
A rugby-themed tour of London’s Rugby Estate for the bicentenary of the football match when William Webb Ellis, a scholar at Rugby School, ‘with a fine disregard for the rules, picked up the ball and ran with it’, thereby creating the new game.
After forming up (our first scrum*) at Temple Tube we thrillingly weave our way to the goalline, to paydirt (our first try) of St Clement Dane’s Church, where the immortal Revd Webb Ellis was the vicar in the 1840s.
Up 7 nil (because the conversion kick was good) we’re on the march to our second try, making our way north via Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the Freemason’s Arms…
The Freemason’s Arms where Association Football (’soccer’) split off from Rugby Football in 1863. And how appropriate that we that we kick a field goal at the Freemason’s Arms, making it 10-nil.
And then it’s on to the Rugby Estate – and two more thrilling trys. The Rugby Estate, an 8-acre patch of land bequeathed to Rugby School by its founder Lawrence Sheriff in 1567. We end at the Rugby Tavern in Rugby Street among the memorabilia of the game’s 200-year history.
WHO’S THIS ONE FOR?
Both devotees and people who haven’t a clue about Rugby
Why is it right for devotees? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it.
And newcomers to the game? 1) Because it’s a chance to find out about it, understand it, see what all the fuss is about. And 2) because it’s not just about a game, it’s also about culture, class, history, regionalism, the whole shebang. You want to understand this country, these people – these Britons – you have to have at least a passing acquaintance with the game that is central to the identity of so many of them.
“WITH A FINE DISREGARD FOR THE RULES”
The famous phrase applied to young Rugby scholar William Webb’s “picking up the ball and running with it” could equally be applied Rick Jones and what he’s done here. London Walks has never done a “sport” walk before. But that’s what superstar creatives (on the playing field and in other areas of life) like Rick Jones do – they push the boundary. They pick up the ball and run with it.
The Bicentenary Rugby Tour goes a 1.45 pm on Fridays 24 February and 3, 10, and 17 March throughout the Six Nations Tournament. Meet fly-half Rick Jones just outside the exit of Temple Tube.
*Or the kick-off if you prefer. Or throw-in.
Jonathan Cohen –
Going on Rick’s tour was a bit of a busman’s holiday for me, as I am a fellow guide with a passion for Rugby. But Rick’s guiding style makes him the Gareth Edwards of tour guiding. Weaving in and out of the stories, with mesmerizing skill and captivating his audience, I was enchanted all the way to the finish line. It was a masterclass and Rick’s obvious knowledge of his patch and the game were second to none. If you get the chance to “try” it for yourself, don’t miss it !!
Penny Bowden –
This sporting life is made so much better when you have a unique character like Rick Jones to put our leading national game of rugby in perspective. Knowing your lineouts from your scrumdowns and fly halves from hookers doesn’t matter a jot – it’s the history of the game, the rebellious characters that shaped it and the places associated with them in London that makes it come alive. And knowing our guide is not only an ex-Harlequins player from a rugby-mad background, but had a special family connection to the upcoming opening England-Scotland game made the memory of this entertaining tour so much sharper. This lifelong footie fan is now looking at rugby video excerpts through new eyes!
I knew nothing (and couldn’t have cared less) about rugby but totally loved the walk. Rick guided us through streets that tourists might overlook. His style is eccentric and his knowledge is breathtaking. His tour was super-entertaining and I might even take a peek at a game some day soon.
Ed Taylor –
This truly is a tour worthy of a try and a conversion. Rick Jones’ potted history of rugby and its associations with London hits the mark. From its origins under William Webb-Ellis to the contemporary game today. First class!